The quality of our lives has a lot to do with the quality of our relationships. I am not referring to the number of people we know but to the depth and solidity of the ties we establish.
As human beings we have a series of needs that we have to meet in order to achieve a sense of balance. We strive to feel valued and we also need to know that we belong to a group that accepts us and makes us feel important. In addition we have to have the sensation that we are contributing to a project that has value, a project that makes sense for us.
Many times, not only do we not feel valued, but we don’t even feel listened to or understood. When someone is with us, we can perceive without too many difficulties when they would rather be somewhere else or if they are with us it is because the feel a sense of obligation.
Sometimes our personal rules for what it takes to feel valued are different to those of others. A son can feel loved by his father if the father plays tennis with him or participates in a computer game. Another son, however, can feel especially valued when his parents recognize and congratulate him on his achievements.
When someone feels that their needs aren’t being met, a curious mechanism is put in motion to desensitize the pain being felt. It is as if it affects them less each time that they don’t feel valued, recognized or loved. Those who construct an armor to protect themselves, also isolate themselves and become immobile without even being conscious of it.
When we lose the connection with our emotional world, we become ever more hardened and cold. Disconnecting oneself from one’s own emotions also means losing the capacity to connect with the feelings and needs of others. When we reach this point, our heart is not at peace but at war. From this moment on, the mind is going to look for dangers and threats even when they are not there. In addition it is going to perceive the actions of the other person not as behaviors but as strategies to control and dominate. We become hypersensitive, irritable, resentful and reactive. The only thing that matters is to look for revenge, criticize and look for allies that do the same. Tension accumulates so that the body weakens and the brain atrophies.
During any conversation that takes place when our heart is at war, the only things that are looked for are reasons and justifications to strengthen our conviction regarding the injustice that the other person is looking to inflict on us, and the logic in our argument. This could have some value if it wasn’t for the other person doing exactly the same. In the end it comes down to a competition not as to how to achieve the best results, but who manages to achieve the biggest pile of reasons and justifications.
It requires a lot of humility and a large dose of courage to choose not to continue participating in this suicidal game. It also requires a large dose of faith in order to trust that when one starts to remove one’s armor and stops investing in strengthening it, something surprising starts to occur. All human beings have their illusions, their sufferings, their joys and their sadnesses. All human beings have their dreams and their worries, their moments of calm and their internal turmoils. When we start to see others in this light, we collaborate in the creation of a different and better world.